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Real World or Digital

by Randall Craig on June 27, 2014

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Marketing, Social Media

Tagged as: , ,

Despite the near ubiquity of Social Media, you can’t say hello to your Starbucks barista there.  You can’t see your team’s body language during a meeting.  You can’t celebrate with friends and family in real-time.  Everything seems to be in 2D – at best a reflection of what is happening in the real world.

Interestingly, this provides a clue as to how Social Media can be used by sophisticated marketers – and how opportunity is lost by many others.  At its essence, digital marketing can be boiled down to three basic strategies:

1) Real World amplification:  This strategy looks at real world activities, and asks the question how Social Media can be used to amplify the impact of that activity online.  Examples:

  • A conference speaker who continues the conversation after the event within a LinkedIn group, or answers questions after the session using Twitter.
  • An instruction manual that includes links to YouTube how-to videos.

2) Driving from Digital:  This strategy lives online, and drives activity to the real world.  Examples:

  • A customer service monitoring to identify customer issues, and then initiating a phone call, visit, or other type of one-to-one communication.
  • Participation in an industry forum to identify sales leads.
  • Tweets that are designed to drive traffic to a retail location.

3)  Social-only:  This approach builds a social-only community, with a goal of building out a network of influence online.  The challenge with this strategy, however, is that unless the organization has a substantial online business, the rationale for investment in this area is sometimes difficult.  Some examples of where this strategy makes sense:

  • Blogging for the purpose of collecting followers, likes, comments, and shares; the ultimate goal is to increase the organization’s profile.
  • A marketplace site that matches buyers and sellers:  procurement marketplaces, Online-only stores (eg Amazon), even dating sites.

This week’s action item:  The best marketing plans are not either-or.  This week, look at your existing marketing plans, and make sure that you have all three strategies addressed.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
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Randall has been advising on Digital Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of eight books, including Digital Transformation for Associations, the Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business, and Social Media for Business. He speaks and advises on Digital Transformation, Digital Trust, and Social Media. More at

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